Natural Resources, School of


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Published in Agron. J. 106:545–559 (2014) doi:10.2134/agronj2013.0270


U. S. government work.


Net CO2 exchange data of legume crops at 17 flux tower sites in North America and three sites in Europe representing 29 site-years of measurements were partitioned into gross photosynthesis and ecosystem respiration by using the nonrectangular hyperbolic lightresponse function method. The analyses produced net CO2 exchange data and new ecosystem-scale ecophysiological parameter estimates for legume crops determined at diurnal and weekly time steps. Dynamics and annual totals of gross photosynthesis, ecosystem respiration, and net ecosystem production were calculated by gap filling with multivariate nonlinear regression. Comparison with the data from grain crops obtained with the same method demonstrated that CO2 exchange rates and ecophysiological parameters of legumes were lower than those of maize (Zea mays L.) but higher than for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crops. Year-round annual legume crops demonstrated a broad range of net ecosystem production, from sinks of 760 g CO2 m–2 yr–1 to sources of –2100 g CO2 m–2 yr–1, with an average of –330 g CO2 m–2 yr–1, indicating overall moderate CO2–source activity related to a shorter period of photosynthetic uptake and metabolic costs of N2 fixation. Perennial legumes (alfalfa, Medicago sativa L.) were strong sinks for atmospheric CO2, with an average net ecosystem production of 980 (range 550–1200) g CO2 m–2 yr–1.